Analytics, Latvia, Society

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Mezs: In 100 years Latvia will have just 10% of its present population

Alla Petrova, BC, Riga, 13.11.2010.Print version
In a hundred years, the population of Latvia will have dropped to around 10 percent of its current level; if current demographic trends continue, there will be only 300,000 Latvians in the world in 2100, the newspaper "Latvijas Avize" was told by Ilmars Mezs, director of the Latvian office of the UN's International Organization for Migration.

"The only way to stop immigrants overwhelming your country is to create more of your own children," believes Mezs, adding that if the demographic situation is not improved, the preservation of culture - the Song Festival, choirs, the Latvian language - are meaningless. "If we do not make sure that we have our own descendents, then there is no point in worrying about what to preserve or what songs to sing."


Mezs notes that despite difficult historical conditions such as wars, plagues and famines, the country's forebears always managed to create a new generation and sustain the nation, adding that if they had made calculations based on their financial situation the way their descendents now do, many of the country's current inhabitants would never have been born.


The UN expert notes that with each year, Latvia loses the equivalent of the population of a medium-sized town, such as Kuldiga or Talsi, due to deaths exceeding births. Meanwhile, "the Estonians have achieved the growth of their nation by a small county every year, while in Latvia every year we lose a whole town," said Mezs.


According to Mezs, the problem in Latvia is the cult of possessions and careers. "We cannot afford children, because we have to finish our university course and start a successful career. After that we need to buy a big flat, pay off the loan for our new car, travel... but children come much lower in our list of priorities."


The expert notes that the solution may lie in tax rebates or favorable mortgage conditions for large families, or simply in people realizing that if they have their first child at 30-35 years old, the family will not be able to raise a further two or three and help reverse demographic decline.

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